Monday, June 08, 2009

More About The Messenger

A pretty clear indication, that not only are the attacks NOT working, but they're actually HURTING the Conservative cause. The Nanos poll shows, when it comes to these ads, they say more about the messenger:
Effectiveness of Ads Question: Would you say the ads were effective, somewhat effective, somewhat ineffective or ineffective? [Recall Only]

Effective 20%
Somewhat effective 15%
Somewhat ineffective 8%
Ineffective 53%
Unsure 4%

Impact of Ads on Impression of Ignatieff Question: Did the advertisement leave you with a positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or negative impression of Michael Ignatieff? [Recall only]

Positive 14%
Somewhat positive 3%
Neutral 45%
Somewhat negative 12%
Negative 22%
Unsure 4%

Impact of Ads on Impression of Conservative Party Question: Did the advertisement leave you with a positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or negative impression of the Conservatives who paid for the ad? [Recall only]

Positive 7%
Somewhat positive 3%
Neutral 20%
Somewhat negative 12%
Negative 53%
Unsure 6%

Important to note, that almost 40% of Canadians haven't seen the ads, which is another indication of overall effectiveness.

I heard Nik Nanos on the radio this morning, and his basic thesis was really no resonance outside of hardcore Conservative supporters and anti-American NDP supporters. In other words, even if Conservatives want to point to a "marginal" net negative for Ignatieff, it gets lost in the audience it's having an effect. Liberals don't care what the Conservative base thinks, nor a certain segment of NDP support, the target is the soft support that can potentially move votes, and these ads overwhelming fail.

Nanos doesn't directly this point, but when you add up the slightly negative, negative numbers for Ignatieff, you find 34%. The rest are neutral or positive, so having 1/3 see any measure of negative impact is pretty irrelevant, once you factor in party support numbers, once you consider kneejerk reactions from demographics hostile to Liberals in general. Objectively, it's a nothing number, although Nanos uses the term "marginal".

What isn't marginal, the negative reaction to the Conservatives running these ads. Even their own supporters recognize that these ads reinforce the Conservatives baggage, namely that of hyper-partisan, prone to nastiness government. Nanos finds the ads overwhelming "reflect poorly" on the government, adding up the positive/negative reaction, we see a decisive -55 score for the Conservatives. I've argued from the outset, that after the prorogue debacle Harper's political capital is spent on the partisan front. Whatever gain the Conservatives hoped to achieve from these ads would be offset by CEMENTING their own achilles heel. Nanos, and others for that matter, seem to confirm this belief, it's a net loss for the Conservatives. As Nik himself pointed out today, it's never considered a successful ad campaign when you alienate more than you attract.

The bottom line conclusion:
The Conservative attack ads have not arrested the incremental trend which currently favours the Liberals. The conclusion is that the ads have had no discernable short term impact.

The only remaining question, the "long term" argument. Mostly a Conservative apologist talking point at the moment, to deflect from the FAILURE of these ads to resonate, one must still consider. People like to use the Dion example, but there is one thing to consider and I believe this vital moving forward. Attack ads can work if the target plays into the narrative. It is a fair question to ask if the Dion ads would have worked, if not for the Liberals continually volunteering evidence to suggest the "weak" tag was accurate. The ads needed real world manifestation to be effective, they weren't effective just because they aired. Everything about the Liberals screamed weakness, whatever your measure, so the connection was made, the attack was reinforced. It is for that reason, that people should be careful using the Dion template and extrapolating from there. If Ignatieff, in the next few years months acts like an elitist, with no understanding of Canada, then these ads could have a impact over time. I'm not particularly worried on that front, the Conservatives would be best to find another attack angle if they must. What is clear, Stephen Harper just spent 5-6 million so he could firm up opinion that yes, he really is a CAD. Bravo Sir.

1 comment:

burlivespipe said...

But who's money is he really spending? Political donations are subsidized by as much as 75% by the taxpayer. That means you and I are helping to fund this out-of-season trophy hunt.
When Canada's unemployed has climbed 363,000 over the past eight months, how can a federal gov't that has sluggishly withheld infrastructure funding for political reasons, spend our tax dollars on a partisan and unnecessary attack? And when is the MsM going to catch on?